I’ve never played a Pilotwings game prior to Resort, but I’ve heard mostly good things. People seem to traditionally find that this series has always been used for showing off how technically advanced the system it is released on is, and the past games have helped set the bar for what subsequent releases on the system should be able to achieve in terms of visual prowess. One look at Pilotwings Resort and it would be easy to see that the game does in fact do a great job of showing off the technical potential of Nintendo’s new handheld, but it doesn’t do it very well.
For as technically impressive as the Island of Wuhu (first seen in Wii Sports Resort) looks with full 3D popping on your shiny new 3DS, the entire game is just completely bland and totally boring. Does that mean it’s bad? No, not at all. It’s just really hard to get $40 worth of fun out of it.
Still, there are plenty of things Pilotwings Resort does right. Can the good outweigh the bad in this 3DS launch game?
As I said, it is really impressive to see the sprawling island of Wuhu on your system when the 3D is turned up. It’s like looking out of an airplane window. The feeling of depth is truly captivating, especially if this is your first 3DS game. Pile on top of the gorgeous scenery the three different times of day at which you can fly (Day, Evening, Night), and it is really easy to get lost in the world of Wuhu while you’re sailing around the island, high above the blue ocean.
However, there is really no way to just enjoy this in a relaxed manner. If the game’s free play mode, you are forced to fly within the restrictions of a timer, popping balloons and flying through rings and such in order to unlock more time for free play mode. This means that if you want to enjoy yourself in Pilotwings, you have to first perform many arduous collection tasks. Perhaps this was an attempt at keeping the game being too dull, but not only did it obviously not work, but it restricts the player from being able to explore the island at their own pace.
There are three base modes of transportation available: plane, hang glider, and rocket belt. Wait, a Rocket Belt? Yes, a Rocket Belt. Sound awesome? It isn’t. In fact, it is the most frustrating and least fun vehicle from the three available. The other two options control well enough, never being too frustrating but also never being quite as intuitive as I had hoped. There are also souped up versions of each craft available for unlocking, but they do little to change anything.
The main mode of the game sees you performing various tasks in an attempt to earn the highest score. From shooting targets to chasing cars to taking pictures, there are several objectives one must complete to unlock more difficult tiers of challenges. However, the difficulty curve is pretty steep, going from very easy to very frustrating later in the game. Challenges stay too easy for too long, then all of a there are a few super hard ones keeping you from finishing the game. Still, even these challenges only take a few tries to beat, and once you clear all of the levels there is almost no reason to keep playing. Pilotwings Resort offers no local or online multiplayer, no online leader boards, no effort-worthy collectibles to unlock, and no reason to play for more than five hours, max.
Had this game come packaged with some mildly entertaining multiplayer, it would be an easy recommendation. However, the inexcusable absence of any competitive or cooperative modes keeps Pilotwings from being a good game, sticking instead to the average level of quality. The developers could have done much more with Wuhu Island, like letting the player walk around the island and explore it a little bit or even including mini games to play at their respective landmarks from Wii Sport Resort.
Wuhu Island as it is in Pilotwings is a barren ghost town with nothing fun to other than flying through rings by yourself. There are a lot of missed opportunities in this game. Had there been more to do, Pilotwings Resort could have been an overwhelming killer app for the 3DS. Instead it’s just another mediocre launch game.
Score: 7.0/10 (Average)